Northampton ‘proud’ of accolade reflecting commitment to safe, welcoming and enjoyable night-time economy
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Individuals and groups across Northampton are “proud” that the town has maintained an accolade that reflects the commitment to offering a safe, welcoming and enjoyable night-time economy.
Purple Flag status, which is celebrated with its own month in October, focuses on the safety and night-time economy of towns and cities.
During Purple Flag Month, places like Northampton that have the prestigious status are celebrated – and our town has been recognised for its “diverse, safe and entertaining evening economy” since it gained the accolade in 2018.
It is awarded to places that offer a safe and welcoming environment, combined with a diverse mix of dining and entertainment, between the hours of 5pm and 5am.
Northampton has been shown to meet or surpass the standards of excellence in managing this – which is highlighted by the number of initiatives being run and the decrease in crime reported at the start of last month.
Northampton Town Centre BID has continued to fund the town’s Purple Flag application and operations manager Mark Mullen said: “We are proud to have Purple Flag status here in Northampton and it reflects the commitment among multiple partners to ensure visitors to our night-time economy can confidently enjoy a safe night out in town.
“We have made great strides in making the town centre a more attractive place to visit at all times of the day and the ongoing work to redevelop the Market Square, Abington Street and Fish Street will enhance that further.
“Everyone is on the same page here. We all share a common desire to revitalise the town centre and make it somewhere visitors are proud of and want to come. Feeling safe is a huge part of that.”
Mark added that BID has established a close working relationship with organisations like Northants Police, the Street Pastors, and the Street Guardians – who he says all do a “fantastic job to provide reassurance and support”.
Councillor Keith Holland-Delamere is the coordinator of Northampton Street Pastors and has been a volunteer for the service for the past 13 years.
The group recently celebrated its 15 year anniversary of looking out for individuals enjoying the town’s night-time economy, particularly on Saturday evenings.
Their work, alongside the Street Guardians, ensures people are safe. They hand out water, blankets and flip flops if needed, while also enabling people to phone friends or family if they require support.
Cllr Holland-Delamere said: “Volunteer groups have an extra pair of eyes on people to make sure they’re safe. It’s extra capacity to make it a better and safer night out.”
He added that the Purple Flag status enables all bodies from across the town to compare themselves to others and learn best practice for the greater good of residents and visitors.
‘No one person or initiative on its own will have the same impact and success as bringing everybody together’
Town centre night-time venues have a large role to play in maintaining the town’s Purple Flag status and Ian Gardner, manager of The Cordwainer, shared his views on what the town has to offer.
Ian moved from Birmingham in 2009 to open the pub for Wetherspoons and over those years, the manager says there is a difference in people’s “expectations and demands” – with a focus on “safety, cleanliness and standards”.
“Everyone likes to think where they live is horrible and jump on any negatives they can think of,” said Ian. “Northampton town centre is a much safer place now than it ever was, because of the Purple Flag. Safety to and from your doorstep is of utmost importance.
“No one person or initiative on its own will have the same impact and success as bringing everybody together.
“Having that security and presence from people who genuinely care about their home town and town centre is hugely important.”
Ian urges residents and visitors to “make the most of what is on offer”, as there are many individuals and venues working hard to provide entertainment and something for everyone.
‘It’s all about the town collaborating together to offer top quality facilities and entertainment’
Dining and entertainment facilities also have a key part to play in Northampton’s Purple Flag status.
Chris Evans, director of sales, marketing and development at the Royal & Derngate and Northamptonshire Arts Management Trust, says having the accolade for the past five years makes a “huge difference”.
“It’s all about the town collaborating to offer top quality facilities and entertainment,” he said. “A secure environment makes people feel safe and encourages them to enter the town.
“Town centres can be scary at night, but everything is in place to help support any eventualities.”
When asked if he believes the Purple Flag status is deserved for the diverse mix of dining and entertainment on offer, Chris said: “Absolutely. All you’ve got to do is look at the restaurants and what the Royal & Derngate offers.”
The Royal & Derngate is gearing up to welcome more than 60,000 people between now and Christmas, with the busy Panto season on the horizon.
“We pride ourselves on what we offer,” he added.
Chris believes the Royal & Derngate sits alongside other important sectors in the town, which compliment each other.
When asked what he would say to the people of Northampton, to encourage them to make the most of what is on offer, Chris said: “Have a look around, look at event and entertainment websites. Take advantage.”
With the festive period fast approaching, Chris says the town is going to be “thriving”.